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Guy Warner: Food for thought

PUBLISHED: 10:21 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 10:21 04 September 2018

Jesse Smith, Cirencester

Jesse Smith, Cirencester

Archant

Discover the local pioneers who are creating delicious destinations for food-lovers

Five years ago, if you’d told me I’d be taking my wife for a morning out at the butchers on an industrial estate, you’d have been calling in the divorce lawyers. Yet, that’s what’s happening over in Cirencester right now as families throng to local butcher’s, Jesse Smith. Admittedly, the industrial estate is on the rather more charming-sounding Love Lane, but still, it’s a butcher’s...on an industrial estate!

But this isn’t an ordinary butcher’s shop – it’s a total food destination and on any day of the week there’ll be a dozen or so people hungrily eyeing up the wares. The butchery remains the main draw – stripped and cleaned carcasses hung in a glass cage like some abstract Damian Hurst greet you as you walk in; alongside this are beautifully laid out cuts of meat on the counter, immaculately dressed butchers ready to offer friendly advice and fridges filled with prepared meat and home-made pies.

While there’s enough to keep the carnivores salivating for hours, there’s plenty for non meat-eaters too. The farm shop also showcases fresh fruit and vegetables, local wines, ciders and ales, and a mouth-watering deli full of home-made produce. Venture round the corner and you’ll discover a café and restaurant, with people enjoying home-made cakes, lunchtime burgers or Saturday brunches on repurposed vintage butcher’s blocks. It’s all rather lovely.

What began life as a traditional butcher’s in the 1800s is now a place where people who enjoy food can, well, enjoy food, thanks to the vision of the current owners, Richard Hawes and sons David and John. Their dream ‘to inspire food lovers everywhere’ has turned the Jesse Smith brand into a foodie destination, where everyone is welcome!

Not many miles away at Frampton Mansell, you’ll find another family of pioneers who are doing amazing things with food. Third generation farmers Simon and Rebecca Wilson and their three children, Harriet, Jemima and Barnaby, have created the ultimate food destination on the side of the A419 with their Jolly Nice brand.

What started out as a silver airstream caravan in a disused petrol station has grown over the last five years to incorporate an award-winning farm shop and café. After perusing the goods, you can enjoy something tasty from the farm’s own rare breed animals – a shorthorn burger or free range pulled pork bap, or one of Harriet’s ice creams.

While it all sounds rather whimsical, the ethos behind Jolly Nice is anything but. Simon and Rebecca founded Jolly Nice for a ‘more sustainable, happier future, prioritising the wellbeing of livestock and the land.’ It’s an inspiring set-up, so much so that Countryfile came to see what all the fuss was about and Olive magazine voted Jolly Nice as one of the best farm shops in the UK.

Simon and Rebecca say there’s an exciting time ahead for independent, sustainable British food, drink and farming. Pioneering foodie destinations such as Jolly Nice and Jesse Smith are certainly testament to that.

Locally-owned company Warner’s Budgens have six stores in the area - Bidford-on-Avon, Broadway, Moreton-in-Marsh, Quedgeley, Tewkesbury and Winchcombe. More information at warnersbudgens.co.uk.

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